Getting On Track: I think this game goes a long way in contributing to that effort, at least offensively and in net. The Wings were scary good with the puck in the Montreal end at times and got some really, really strong goaltending out of Jimmy when they needed it. They were missing that during the skid, so it’s good to see those things back in hand again. Unfortunately, they’re still lacking some of the things you’d like to see in the defensive game, not to mention continuity over the course of the game, but they stopped the skid, so it’s mostly good.
Goalie Duel: As Petrella pointed out, don’t let the final score fool you. We were treated to a real serious goaltending duel last night, between two of the best young goalies in the League. When the Wings were on offensively, Price held them off for the most part or else the score would have been racked up. Then when the Canadiens controlled the third, Jimmy kept it from being some kind of run-and-gun shootout. Great stuff.
Eaves: Fitting that he had the empty net goal, I thought. He seemed to be involved in offensive opportunities all night. Great game from him, so here’s hoping he’s not the scratch tonight.
Discipline: The Habs are a talented team with some great goaltending, but they looked really undisciplined last night. Five straight penalties from the first to the second? That’s absurd. And a couple of them were of the really stupid variety, like Plekanec’s slash on Rafalski while the Wings were already on the power play. I don’t know if that’s how they play all the time, but it can’t be helpful to their long term success prospects.
Speaking Of…: Plekanec. He lightly collided with Rafalski in open ice in the first period and collapsed to the ice like he’d been shot. Seriously I don’t know what he was thinking there. Hip to hip, not all that crushing at all, and play was stopped and trainers came out. Ridiculous. He didn’t miss a shift. Until he slashed Rafalski minutes later, apparently in retaliation. What a baby.
Power Play: The Wings put out some good work with the man advantage in this game. They sure had enough opportunities to. Price did a great job of holding them off, though. That said, the 5-on-3 was a little low in urgency. I guess, though, that was from confidence rather than tentativeness.
Datsyuk: Another great night from Pavel. His play to Lidstrom on the last second first period goal was perfect timing (though I should pause to give credit to Homer for digging the puck out originally), and his shot off the rush for his goal was wicked.
Cleary: Heck of a play to get it to Kronwall for Nik’s goal. More of that please.
First versus Second: My read after the first was that the Habs were the better of the two teams, though undisciplined. The stat sheet doesn’t bear that out in shots, but I mostly stand by it. I thought at even strength, the Habs were marginally more dangerous. In the second, the shots were closer, but the Wings seemed to totally dominate through puck possession.
Then the Third: This is the worrisome part. After a dominating period, to see the Wings come out so flat in the third was a disappointment. They held on in the end, but I’m still curious where that contrast comes from. The team needs to work on playing 60 minutes still.
Megan said to me this morning that she hopes they were holding something in reserve for tonight rather than hitting fatigue problems, and I mostly agree (though I hate to think they were holding back). I guess we’ll see.
Tonight: The Devils won three of four to finish November, but have since lost four in a row, so their troubles this season continue. They got Martin Brodeur back last night, so perhaps they’ll have a turnaround coming, but it didn’t start in Ottawa, where they lost 3-2. It’s possible/likely Brodeur will be in net tonight, but he should still have some rust to shake off. If that’s true, the Wings faced the better of two goalies of the back-to-back last night.
Chris Osgood starts for the Wings, so hope for offensive and defensive support, though if he plays like he did against LA, the team should be in solid shape.
The Wings need to think of the Devils as they were before this season and not take them lightly. As much trouble as they’ve had this year, New Jersey still has talent and can beat an unwary team. Here’s hoping the Wings flew to the Garden State intending to just take care of business and get out of there.